Washington, DC: The museums

This is the next part of my recap of our recent trip to DC. Part 1 and Part 2 can be found at those links in case you missed out. Still to come are the monuments on the National Mall and, the best part, the food. For now here’s way more than you probably wanted to know about the various Smithsonian museums and the one for profit attraction that we threw into the mix. As a reminder, I left my good camera at home so the photos are the best I could do with only an iphone to work with, so, if you hate the pictures, blame the equipment and not the photographer.

My son Brandon is a big fan of Leonardo Da Vinci, so his first priority was to see the one Da Vinci painting in the US, which is on display at the National Gallery of Art. We made a bee line there on Friday morning, guided rather expertly by Mrs. Lo, who interned there while in graduate school at GW. The rest of the next two days were spent in and around these absolute national treasures. If you want an example of what the government does very, very well, look no further than the Smithsonian museums.

THE NATIONAL GALLERY

Heading up the steps to the National Gallery, still one of the best looking buildings in the city. The weather, as you may be able to tell from the bright blue sky was pretty amazing throughout the trip.

Heading up the steps to the National Gallery, still one of the best looking buildings in the city. The weather, as you may be able to tell from the bright blue sky, was pretty amazing throughout the trip.

Just hanging out with a Da Vinci painting. No biggie, dad.

Just hanging out with a Da Vinci painting. No biggie, dad. As we stood there I heard a woman say in a rather bored and offhand tone to her children “I think that’s the Mona Lisa or something.” Um, no.

I wonder what Dali would have thought of Instagram. Or his paintings being tucked away in a stairwell and basically hidden from view.

I wonder what Dali would have thought of Instagram? Or his paintings being tucked away in a stairwell and basically hidden from view?

A self portrait of Van Gough, always one of my favorite.

A self portrait of Van Gough, always one of my favorites.

AIR AND SPACE

Crossing the Mall to get to the Air and Space museum. I think that is the DC Home for Wayward Boys and Girls in the background. I told you the weather was nice.

Crossing the Mall to get to the Air and Space museum. I think that is the DC Home for Wayward Boys and Girls in the background. I told you the weather was nice.

Hey look, more Da Vinci stuff. That guy did everything, didn't he. The one drawback to the beauty, sunny weather and the large, glass room of the Air and Space museum is that it made for some horrible picture lighting during the time of day we were there.

Hey look, more Da Vinci stuff. That guy did everything, didn’t he? The one drawback to the beautiful, sunny weather and the large, glass roof of the Air and Space museum is that it made for some horrible picture lighting during the time of day we were there.

Planes, but no trains nor automobiles. I do love the inside of that museum.

Planes, but no trains nor automobiles. I do love the inside of that museum.

The Apollo 17 lunar module. I tried to tell B and B that they tinfoil thing they were standing in front of was what astronauts used to land on the moon, but I'm not sure they believe me.

The Apollo 17 lunar module. I tried to tell B and B that the tinfoil thing they were standing in front of was what astronauts used to land on the moon, but I’m not sure they believe me.

NATURAL HISTORY

This is my favorite photograph that I took the entire week, a panorama of the Natural History museum rotunda taken from the second floor. just a beautiful building. I'm leaving this one in full size instead of compressing to hopefully do it some justice.

This is my favorite photograph that I took the entire week, a panorama of the Natural History museum rotunda taken from the second floor. Just a beautiful building. I’m leaving this one in at a little bit larger size instead of compressing to hopefully do it some justice.

Guys, there's something behind you.

Guys, there’s something behind you!

Hi. I know more about dinosaurs than you do and am not afraid to tell you so.

Hi. I know more about dinosaurs than you do and am not afraid to tell you so.

Look at the size of that head. And the head on the statue is pretty big too, isn't it?

Look at the size of that head. And the head on the statue is pretty big too, isn’t it?

THE INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM

The last museum we went to was the International Spy Museum. It is not a part of the Smithsonian, and as such was the only one we paid to enter. I enjoyed it, and the rest of the family did as well, but if you have younger children or are not interested in history then this probably isn't for you.

The last museum we went to was the International Spy Museum. It is not a part of the Smithsonian, and as such was the only one we paid to enter. I enjoyed it, and the rest of the family did as well, but if you have younger children or are not interested in history then this probably isn’t for you.

When you enter the museum you are asked o select and memorize a cover identity (which comes into play in a few of the interactive exhibits later). Since I am old and losing my memory and was in possession of a cell phone, I cheated and took a photo of my cover ID. I was roundly mocked and booed by the staff for this. A spy's got to do what a spy's got to do, what can I say.

When you enter the museum you are asked to select and memorize a cover identity (which comes into play in a few of the interactive exhibits later). Since I am old and losing my memory and was in possession of a cell phone, I cheated and took a photo of my cover ID. I was roundly mocked and booed by the staff for this. A spy’s got to do what a spy’s got to do, what can I say.

My favorite part of the museum was the 50 Years of James Bond villains exhibit, which included several cool old movie posters like this one on display.

My favorite part of the museum was the 50 Years of James Bond villains exhibit, which included several cool old movie posters like this one on display.

"His name is Jaws. He kills people." That one is for Nick.

“His name is Jaws. He kills people.” That one is for Nick.

Despite all the cool stuff we saw, we had to make some sacrifices when it came to the museums on this strip. We were not able to see American History, the Holocaust museum, and several others that I would have loved to have taken the kids to if we had a few more days in the city. I could have easily spent an entire day just at the Natural History museum alone. Next time, DC. Next time.

Tomorrow, the Monuments. Lincoln, and Jefferson and King, oh my!

Cheers.

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Posted on November 4, 2013, in Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Boys are still too young for Holocaust. Personally, I love the Sackler. And the Freer. And the modern art part of National Gallery (though I know it was under construction). And American Art/Portrait Gallery. And…guess you better come back asap! 🙂

  2. I forgot Hirshorn, and Library of Congress, & Mt. Vernon, & you have to take the boys to Great Falls, and Bluejacket just opened next to Nats Park (fun craft beers, including sours!), & in the summer the Sculpture Garden, & the Botanical Garden, & American Indian museum…

    • Yep, the Library of Congress is far and away my favorite building in the city, especially the Jefferson reading room. That and the Hirshorn are top if the list for next time. Oh, and for some reason I found the National Mint to be ridiculous entertaining before.

      >

  3. Wonderful! And I think the photos turned out great. The National Archives are by far my favorite of all the Smithsonian museums–being a hairsbreadth away from touching my finger to John Adams’s signature on the Declaration of Independence: amazing. Can’t wait to read more about your trip!

    • The National Archives where the very last thing we left out. We had planned on doing it Saturday but just spent too much time at the Natural History museum (and still only got through about 30%) of it. The lure of dinosaur bones on a 10 year old boy (not to mention a 43 year old one) are strong.

  1. Pingback: Washington, DC: The monuments | Fables of the Deconstruction

  2. Pingback: Washington, DC: The eats | Fables of the Deconstruction

  3. Pingback: The airing of the Festivus grievances | Fables of the Deconstruction

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